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Wake Officials Seek Rabid Puppy's Siblings

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MORRISVILLE — Wake County animal control workers aretrying to identify and warn the people who were exposed to a litter of puppies in Morrisville. More than 50 people might requiretreatment because one of those puppies was found to have rabies.

There were seven puppies in all in the chow-shepherd mix litter. OnTuesday, one pup began to show signs of illness, and bit itsnew owner. Tissue from the euthanized dog was tested at the statelaboratory. Results confirmed the puppy was rabid.

At least 20 people in the owner's neighborhood are now undergoing aseries of anti-rabies shots because they handled the cute 4-month-oldpuppy.

Because the other puppies from the litter might also be carrying thevirus, it is important to account for all the dogs and their presentowners.

The puppies' mother was vaccinated against rabies, but five of theseven puppies dragged a raccoon carcass into their Morrisville yard abouta month ago. Two of the puppies had already found homes prior to theraccoon incident. One remained with the mother dog's owners. Another isbelieved to have been killed by a car.

One dog has been traced to a Franklin County family. Two dogs remainunaccounted for.

Dickie Sloop, Wake County's animal control program director, said thatthree puppies have been tested for rabies, and only the originally suspectdog has been found to be rabid so far.

Raccoons show the highest rate of rabies in Wake County. In 1996 41tested positive. Since July 1994, 83 animals -- 6 pets, and bats,raccoons and foxes -- have tested positive for rabies in Wake County.

To reduce exposure to animals from the wild, people are advised not toleave water or food outside for pets during the night and not to leavegarbage outdoors in accessible places. Pets should also be vaccinatedagainst rabies as soon as possible.

To better inform people of the danger of rabies, information packetsare being distributed to physicians, the media and veterinarians'offices. Science teachers and health nurses in Wake County schools aregetting special training.

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